It was business straightaway for the Babar Azam-led Pakistan cricket team, which landed on Wednesday night, as the players indulged in a two-hour practice session at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Thursday.
Amidst unprecedented security measures in and around the stadium, the Pakistan team trooped into the stadium on Thursday morning around 9.00 AM.
The team first had a warm-up session followed by a fielding session before going into serious ‘net practice’.
The team got a feel of the venue, the pitches and reportedly expressed satisfaction with the facilities and the playing conditions ahead of its World Cup campaign.
The media was not in the know of things about either Pakistan’s team practice or that of New Zealand in the morning.
Apparently, the security agencies didn’t want to take any risk as today also happened to be the Ganesh Visarjan in the city and the practice sessions were planned early in the morning to avoid any inconvenience because of the procession of Lord Ganesh idols later in the day, a senior Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) official said.
Pakistan will play two warm-up games - one against New Zealand on September 29 and another one against Australia on October 3.
By all means, it was a remarkable job by the HCA officials, monitored on a day-to-day basis personally by K. Durga Prasad, who is assisting the Supreme Court Judge Justice (Retd) L. Nageshwara Rao in ending the ‘impasse’ in the HCA.
The new-look Rajiv Gandhi Stadium and the lush green outfield, which resembles a billiards table, is testimony to the kind of efforts the ground staff, headed by Y.L. Chandrasekhar and assisted by Mukesh Kumar, have undertaken.
Pakistan’s first World Cup game is on October 6 against Netherlands and its second match, here, is against Sri Lanka on October 10. The team flies to Ahmedabad to take on archrival India in Ahmedabad on October 14.
The Pakistan team members were visibly delighted at the smooth process of their arrival at the Rajiv Gandhi Airport on Wednesday night and their journey to the hotel amidst the expected security arrangements.
“Overwhelmed with the love and support here in Hyderabad,” Azam posted on his Instagram handle.
A similar opinion was echoed by wicketkeeper-batter Mohammed Rizwan.
“Amazing reception from the people here (Hyderabad). Everything is super smooth. Looking forward to the next one-and-a-half months,” Rizwan said.
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